The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

38 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING

and that at every moment its nature is subtly changing. This is

what we mean when we say things are empty, that they have

no independent existence.

Modern science speaks to us of an extraordinary range of

interrelations. Ecologists know that a tree burning in the Amazon

rain forest alters in some way the air breathed by a citizen

of Paris, and that the trembling of a butterfly's wing in

Yucatan affects the life of a fern in the Hebrides. Biologists are

beginning to uncover the fantastic and complex dance of genes

that creates personality and identity, a dance that stretches far

into the past and shows that each so-called "identity" is composed

of a swirl of different influences. Physicists have introduced

us to the world of the quantum particle, a world

astonishingly like that described by Buddha in his image of

the glittering net that unfolds across the universe. Just like the

jewels in the net, all particles exist potentially as different

combinations of other particles.

So when we really look at ourselves, then, and the things

around us that we took to be so solid, so stable, and so lasting,

we find that they have no more reality than a dream.

Buddha said:

Know all things to be like this:

A mirage, a cloud castle,

A dream, an apparition,

Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen.

Know all things to be like this:

As the moon in a bright sky

In some clear lake reflected,

Though to that lake the moon has never moved.

Know all things to be like this:

As an echo that derives

From music, sounds, and weeping,

Yet in that echo is no melody.

Know all things to be like this:

As a magician makes illusions

Of horses, oxen, carts and other things,

Nothing is as it appears. 9

Contemplation of this dreamlike quality of reality need not

in any way make us cold, hopeless, or embittered. On the

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